Our adventure started in Laurium, near Calumet, a short drive from FJ McLain State Park. Our target was the old Thomas Hoatson mansion, Laurium Manor. This is a tremendous 13,000 square feet mansion built 1908 for Thomas H. & Cornelia Hoatson, owner of Calumet & Arizona Mining Co. The house and furnishings reportedly cost $85,000.00, an astronomical sum considering the local miners were earning less than $1,000.00 annually.
We spent over an hour examining almost every room of Laurium Manor Inn bed and breakfast. Dave and Julie Sprenger are a wonderful couple who saved the house from demolition in 1989, somehow having the vision and drive to rescue and restore the house and continue still operating a successful bed and breakfast. Several rooms sport very attractive fireplaces and woodwork similar to this one in the library.
The kitchen tile floor and the icebox are both original. The icebox is a gem, with its interior glass walls, marble floors, tiled doors. It is beautiful, functional, and has lasted over one hundred years in service. It is an 80 cf icebox, over thirteen times the cooled volume of our home’s refrigerator.
The location is perfect for exploring the Keweenaw Peninsula, a region rich with copper mines, old churches, beautiful lake shores, and a few great eateries. The house has four levels. It includes a 1,300 sf ballroom and maids’ rooms on the top floor, great rooms on the main floor to curl up in a chair with a book, and very attractive private rooms on the second floor. This mansion looks and feels like it is a really comfy bed and breakfast.
The drive from Calumet to Copper Harbor and Ft Wilkins State Park is gorgeous on either Lakeshore Drive or M-41. We day toured up Lakeshore Drive and planned to stop at The Jampot but, of course, it was closed on Sunday. Very poor planning on my part — this would have been a great place to visit.
Fortunately we stumbled upon Eagle Harbor Inn and had delicious food and friendly service. This is a great clean restaurant and bar (and Inn too). I’m only sorry we didn’t notice the daily desserts listed on chalkboard inside the front door. We would at least have split a slice of one of their really yummy-sounding pies.
Fortified temporarily, we drove a little more up the coast toward Copper Harbor and Ft Wilkins. Good thing we had consumed the extra rations or we might have blown away at this pretty overlook. The wind was absolutely howling while the day was otherwise completely beautiful.
Our Michigan recreation pass provided us access, at no additional cost, to tour Ft Wilkins. We spent hours poring over the exhibits in most of their nineteen buildings. Fascinating to imagine anyone’s life wintering in these old wooden buildings with iron stoves and a really meager diet.
Ft Wilkins was garrisoned only two years, from 1844-1846 before the Army sent all troops away except for a caretaker. In 1867 the Army again occupied the fort but for only three years before they abandoned it. The WPA started restoration of Ft Wilkins in the 1930s and it has undergone significant restorations since. The exhibits seem to accurately depict army life in the 1840s for soldiers assigned to a very remote outpost.
One more day in Michigan’s UP before we head for Duluth. We visit Lake of the Clouds in Porcupine Mountain Wilderness State Park, then close the book on our first, and very memorable, tour of Michigan’s UP.
Jim and Debbie
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